We’ve all heard them before. Claims about certain foods from so-called “experts” that sound dubious at best. Usually, they actually are dubious. Many times, these experts are anything but experienced, and often certain myths are perpetuated by specific food industries in order to increase their profitability. Fortunately, with ample research, we can avoid falling into these traps. Here are 7 of the biggest food myths that may be preventing you from improving your health.
Myth 1: Fat is Bad
Low-fat meat. Fat-free milk and cheeses. Reduced fat dressing. You’ve seen them all. The low and no-fat fad lasted for a long time, and many people still believe that dietary fat actually makes them fat. This, of course, is completely untrue. Fat is one of the three macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and proteins, that is necessary for survival. Consuming the right amount of fat contributes to your overall health, as fat helps in the absorption of nutrients. The only fats that are “bad” are saturated fats, and even then, only certain types are harmful. The real danger – the thing that causes weight gain – is often sugar, so it is better to stay away from sugary foods than fatty foods.
Myth 2: Eggs Raise Your Cholesterol
While it’s true that egg yolks contain a high amount of cholesterol, but most of it doesn’t make it into your bloodstream. Your cholesterol levels are usually influenced by saturated and trans fats, of which eggs contain very few. In fact, if you are avoiding eggs, you may be doing harm because they are rich in nutrients.
Myth 3: Diet Soda Makes You Skinny
While diet soda may contain zero calories, this isn’t going to make you thin. However, the chemicals in diet soda have been correlated with changes in metabolism and increased food cravings, which is the opposite of what you want if trying to lose weight.
Myth 4: Salads are Always Healthy
While a simple salad of greens and vegetables with a light dressing can indeed be healthy, that doesn’t mean all salads are a safe choice. Many store-bought or restaurant salads contain additions like cheese, bacon, meats, and croutons. They are then slathered in a high-calorie dressing. Make sure your salad contains mostly vegetables (and not fried ones either!) and opt for a dressing of oil and vinegar if you want a satisfying but healthy salad.
Myth 5: Vegetarian and Vegan Diets Don’t Provide Enough Protein
Many people don’t understand that there are plenty of ample sources of proteins outside of meat and fish. Foods like quinoa, peanut butter, nuts, lentils, and beans all provide an ample amount of protein to be healthy. So, if you want to be meat-free, just make sure to eat plenty of those and other plant-based proteins.
Myth 6: Milk Promotes Healthy Bones
There is no evidence for the once universal claim that milk is good for your bones. While it is a good source of calcium, there are much healthier and better sources such as kale, collard greens, and bok choy.
Myth 7: Fruit Has Too Much Sugar to Be Healthy
In recent years, people have given up fruit due to its sugar content. While it is true that fruit is high in fructose, it is also loaded with nutrients and can fill you up while consuming relatively few calories. An all-fruit diet would not be good, but finding the right balance is important. Most people should stick with two to four servings per day, based on their energy and caloric needs.